The late Dolores Wickes being interviewed on RTE in 2002
The sudden passing of Letterkenny woman Dolores Wickes (Carr) yesterday has evoked memories of her for many who worked at the giant Unifi textiles factory which was once the biggest employer in the town.
Indeed, she was the marketing manager of the American firm’s Donegal subsidiary back in June 2002 when the company was very much in the headlines for the FIFA World Cup.
In fact, the yarn used in 19 out of the 32 World Cup nations’ replica jerseys was manufactured by Unifi in Letterkenny, and was specially designed for the heat of Japan and Korea. She featured in an RTE news report by its north-west correspondent Eileen Magnier which can be seen HERE
However, Unifi Textured Yarns (Europe) Limited closed in Letterkenny in July 2004. At its peak, it employed more than 780 people.
When Courtaulds set up the original factory in 1976, the town had a population of just over 6,000. Unifi took over in 1984 and at the end of that decade, announced a major expansion programme.
Its workforce grew from just over 300 to almost 800 in the space of a decade. Meanwhile, the town’s population leapt from 10,726 in 1991 to 15,231 by 2002.
Unifi played a huge role in Letterkenny’s expansion and both Dolores Wickes and her husband Ed were key figures in the company during this period.
Her untimely passing has come as a great shock to the many people than knew her down through the years, and many tributes have been paid since the sad news broke yesterday.
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